Changes Proposed for Hiring, Benefits

New employees in Meridian could soon get less vacation time.

Current employees who have worked 15 years or more with the city of Meridian receive almost two months off in paid leave each year. This includes vacation time, sick days and paid holidays.

This was an incentive in years past when salaries were lower. City council president, Dr. George Thomas, calls the policy extravagant now. That's why he wants it to change.

"Now I'm not talking about cutting benefits for present employees," said Thomas, "but for new employees. I am saying that we should change that leave policy so that they get two weeks vacation. They also get 12 to 13 paid holidays. So, even with this they'd get over three weeks off per year with pay."

As budget talks continue, city officials are looking at other ways to save taxpayers' money. One measure being examined is how to reduce the amount of time it takes to hire employees, especially for the public works department.

City officials say often that department is understaffed because it takes months to fill positions that are open.

"It is a long hard process," said Mayor Cheri Barry. "The hiring process usually takes about three months. So, any time that we could cut that down to two weeks to a month to get someone hired to do the work that is necessary would be good. The Civil Service Commission is now looking at their policies and procedures and updating them. They haven't been updated in 30 years. You know, they are an autonomous group so they'll have to bring that before council."

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